Watching Police, Watching Communities

Watching Police, Watching Communities

Watching Police, Watching Communities

Watching Police, Watching Communities

Synopsis

From the early 80s community policing has been held up as a new commitment to the ideals of service and the rejection of coercive policing styles. The idea was to encourage a partnership between the public and police in which community needs would be met by officers on local beats.
Today, Government ministers and senior police officers depict Neighbourhood Watch, the centrepiece of the scheme, as a great success. However, Watching Police, Watching Communitiesreveals that most schemes are dormant or dead. The authors trace the causes of scheme failure to the lack of commitment to community policing by police forces. Most importantly, they find a police rank-and-file culture which celebrates aggression, machismo and the assertion of authority especially against areas occupied by ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged groups.

Excerpt

So far as the public image of British policing is concerned, the last decade has been the age of neighbourhood watch. Transplanted from the United States of America, watch schemes were introduced into Britain in the early 1980s, expanded rapidly and susbequently became the centrepiece of community crime-prevention initiatives. Neighbourhood watch was promoted as evidence of a break with a past which had been marked by fractured relations with the community, a remote police force, and styles of policing which had contributed to major confrontations with the public, including street disorders. in contrast to impositional policing, neighbourhood watch was to symbolize a new commitment to the ideals of service, in which the police would dedicate themselves to meeting the needs of the community at a local level. the technological age of policing in the 1960s and 1970s, in which cars, computers and radios were said to have created a metal barrier between officers and citizens, was to be replaced by a more consumer-friendly image which emphasized accessibility, approachability and partnership.

In this book we want to look at the sociological meaning behind these images. the book is not simply an examination of neighbourhood watch as a policing initiative; rather, neighbourhood watch is used as a way of looking at police-community relations and the state of contemporary policing in Britain. Thus, whilst we are concerned to look at the extent to which neighbourhood watch has penetrated into the social fabric-where schemes have taken hold and where they have failed to get off the ground; who become members and what influence schemes have upon members' attitudes and behaviour; and what, if any, impact schemes have upon crime and the fear of crime-we are also interested in the extent

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